How to Choose a Coach
by Stanlee Panelle

Just because someone is licensed or certified doesn't mean they are the right Counselor for you. Here's how to choose the right match for you.

There are tons of helpers out there for almost every issue a person can come up with. When looking for a Coach, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. First and foremost is a CONNECTION. When you are interviewing your prospective Coach, be yourself. Don’t hold back. Use the language you use. State your opinions. Make yourself known. Then listen for how this person responds. Are they in tune with you? Are they sensitive to your style? Do they really hear you or are they intent on their own agenda? Do you feel understood and accepted? Do you like them?

2. Also first and foremost – equally – is do they have what you want? This idea comes from the 12 step paradigm of sponsorship. When you are looking for someone to help you along your way, look for someone that has what you want. That means, someone that is experienced and knowledgeable in the issue of your interest. If you’re looking for someone to help you get your business organized, you will want someone with business acumen, experience and success, either of their own history and or in helping people successfully accomplish what you want to accomplish.

3. Look for someone that generates a feeling of safety and trust, so that you are willing to be completely honest with them. Coaching works best when the client feels safe and open so they can be honest with all that pertains to the issue at hand. That way they can be a better help and support to you. If you feel like someone is kind of like a “used car salesman”, you probably won’t feel safe to explore all that you need to even if they have stellar testimonials and talk a blue streak about how they can help.

4. Find someone that has a track record of dependability. Notice how quickly they call you back, what kind of restrictions they place on your sessions and support adjuncts. Are they consistent in their delivery? Are they going to be there to see you all the way to success? Or do you feel like they are too busy or too self indulgent to follow through when you need them? You don’t want to find yourself deep into a process or project and unable to reach your coach at a crucial moment because they are snorkeling in the Caribbean and sending little newsletters about how fabulous their life is due to their amazing success.

5. Get a sense of how open and understanding your potential Coach is. If you need to renegotiate your Coaching terms down the line for whatever reason, are they going to work with you? or are they going to dump you? Sometimes stuff just needs to be worked out and you want to trust that your Coach trusts you as well, so that such things don’t make you bail when all you needed was a little time or grace in the process.

6. Ask questions. Whatever it is that is on your mind when interviewing a prospective Coach ask it. How they respond will tell you a lot. Remember: you are the one in charge here. You don’t need to make the Coach comfortable or take care of them. That’s the beauty of hiring a helper. It’s all about YOU. Not them. Step on up and let yourself be the center of attention. Don’t make it easy on them. You have nothing to prove. It’s the Coach that needs to prove themselves to you.

7. Look for a Coach/Counselor/Therapist that provides a free initial consultation. Most confident helpers are happy to do this and make a habit of it. Some offer a brief 15 or 30 minute consult. Personally, I prefer to sit with a client for a full hour so there is plenty of time to get to know each other, discern if there are any risk factors to be considered, referrals to other resources needed, get a full history of the client related to their current issue and discuss the services and fees involved. I didn’t invent this, so it’s not just me that does takes this approach. It’s fairly common and easy to find among our field, so when you run into someone that doesn’t offer that, wonder about it.

Choose a Coach that you would love to have as a mentor or a BFF but don’t treat them like a BFF. It’s pretty much a one way relationship with a great feel of the best of friendship without all the obligation on your part. Choose someone you will enjoy and respect. Then… have a great time!

Author's Bio: 

Stanlee Panelle, M.A., MFT,
Professional LIfe Coach & Personal Development Facilitator

Specialty Areas: Women's Empowerment; Personal Authenticity; Stellar Self-esteem; Healing Depression.

eBooks, Audio & Self Help Programs: “Stellar Self-Esteem”; “The Authentic You Inside”; "Depression Free Forever!"; "What Next? What Now?"

Career Focus: Personal Life Coach; Group Facilitator; Workshop & Retreat Leader; Author; Speaker; Entrepreneur;


Stanlee Panelle is an experienced authority on the psychology and humanity of Women's Life Transitions, Re-discovering and integrating the Authentic Self and Successfully Overcoming Depression. Over the past decade in addition to her coaching practice, Stanlee has proven her expertise as a Psychotherapist working in the Non-profit sector, LGBT community organizations and private practice helping men, women and teen-agers regain happiness, stability and self-esteem.

Having closed her psychotherapy practice in favor of Life Coaching internationally, Stanlee is available again, for public speaking engagements and live appearances, including her soon-to-be premiered, stand-up comedy act based on some of the experiences of her field.

Along with group facilitation and individual work in person at her personable home office, or long distance via Skype, Stanlee will be releasing new Home Study programs, workbooks and audio programs in the Fall of 2011. To welcome the Healing energy of 2012, Stanlee and her Brazilian Shaman partner will be offering a workshop intensive in January, 2012 in Austin, Texas.